Saturday, November 30, 2013

Fyre (Septimus Heap 7) by Angie Sage

Fyre (Septimus Heap, #7)Fyre by Angie Sage
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

So I reached the end of the Magyk series. I have aired my complaints in the past about the lack of a linear conflict in this series, just as I have repeatedly praised the setting and concept. This final book gets the brunt of my frustrations, and those frustrations are all about lost opportunities.

The final conflict was good. It felt undeveloped, but had the makings of a deep, long-term conflict that I could have sunk my teeth into. The history of the ring, the role of the Queen in society and the relation of the Magyk world to ours all hold juicy interest for me. Why then, oh why, weren't those things a part of the series the whole time? Why didn't those ideas get developed and grow to a great finale that leaves me with an I-ate-too-much-for-Thanksgiving kind of literary diabetic coma? Instead a great series is left like an un-watered plant to eke along until someone tries to create and solve a series-wide plot in one book. Great characters (Hotep Ra) get pulled out of the past and set to run around as if they were in their prime. Delightfully evil villians are introduced, set free and then reconquered between one set of covers. It could have been so much more!

Blah. I will say no more. I would love for someone to fix this at some point, but I understand that now that it has been printed, it is over. The cat is out of the bag, and it is too late. And it is time to move on.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and RedemptionUnbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So, yes, I am giving this book 5 stars, but not because the events depicted in the book were amazing (which they were.) I am giving this book 5 stars due to the way it was put together. Hillenbrand must have done an exhaustive amount of research to tell a story so completely, and from so many viewpoints. Add on top of that the fact it all happened close to a century ago, and I think that it can't be anything less than 5-stars.

Again, I have decided to forego summarizing the books I read (there are plenty of summaries out there), and instead give my pros and cons. You've heard the pros, so I'm obliged to share the dark side. While the author did a fantastic job of pulling random accounts, articles and "data" together into one cohesive whole, I feel that she missed the climax of the story. The after-war part of the books dragged quite a bit, and not for Hillenbrand's lack of talent. You just can't replace the end of WWII with an internal climax. It doesn't work. Everything built up to the end of the war and when it happened, the climax was over and from then on the reader was looking for closure. That closure took a long time in coming, and was hampered by an attempt at a second climax. I'm not arguing that those weren't important events, nor am I arguing that Louie didn't experience his own climactic conclusion well after the war was over, but I don't think it worked to try to bring the reader through all of those experiences, with that level of detail and then have them focus on something outside of the war. Sorry.

It still gets the 5 stars though:)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Defining Moments: When Managers Must Choose Between Right and Right by Joseph L. Badaracco Jr.

Defining Moments: When Managers Must Choose Between Right and RightDefining Moments: When Managers Must Choose Between Right and Right by Joseph L. Badaracco Jr.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I also read this book for a class, but I thought it was pretty good. It demonstrates what the author sees as right vs. right decisions, and discuses how various people have responded to some such scenarios in their lives. I think the key to enjoying this book is to not try to take the examples to a deep level. To me this is an introductory book for students/professionals who haven't thought about ethics often, but rather just tried to "do what's right." If you are a philosopher, or already taken courses in ethics, you will probably expect too much.

As for my criticisms, like most business books this book was about 20-30% too long. The last few chapters dragged, and the level of the conversation varies, which probably opened him up for the criticism you see in other reviews, which I alluded to above. All in all, if you want to get a differently point of view about tough decision making, and haven't delved into ethics books in the past, this is the book for you.